Lancashire

Taxi child sex claims: South Ribble Council's licence failings

Margaret Smith Image copyright South Ribble Borough Council
Image caption Council leader Margaret Smith said it has "double-checked" the licence of every other taxi driver in the borough

A council at the centre of claims children were sexually exploited by taxi drivers had a lack of awareness about ensuring passenger safety, a report has found.

A leaked interim review had highlighted "serious concerns" over South Ribble Borough Council's taxi licensing and handling of two child sex abuse claims.

The full report concludes issues surrounding taxi licence applications have now been identified and addressed.

The authority "welcomes the findings".

Image caption Council leader Margaret Smith said it regrets instances "where we fell short of the mark"

An audit of taxi driver applications in December had found appropriate background checks had not been carried out in relation to 40 working taxi drivers in South Ribble.

Council leader Margaret Smith said a taxi driver's licence has since been revoked and it has "double-checked" the licence of every other taxi driver in the borough.

"The public rightly expects our licensing service to provide them with the right level of protection and we regret any instances where we fell short of the mark," the Conservative councillor said.

The authority was working closely with the police and crime commissioner, Lancashire Safeguarding Children Board and other authorities to "bring in a robust licensing policy", she added.

Image caption Councillor Paul Foster said he wants more information

The independent report, written by solicitors Wilkin Chapman LLP, concluded it was not necessary to make any further recommendations as it had "taken steps to address operational issues".

The leader of the opposition, councillor Paul Foster, said he wanted more information.

Mr Foster, Labour, said: "It is a complete and utter whitewash: one licence has been revoked.

"I'm afraid there are five serious cases of either child exploitation or safeguarding issues.

"We must understand what has happened to the other four drivers and why they haven't had their licenses revoked."

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